October 9, 2019

Progressive Rock Review: The Inner Road-The Majestic Garden

Release Date: March 1, 2019
Label: Independent

The Inner Road is the creation of Steve Gresswell and Phil Braithwaite, two former members of the band Coalition who joined forces to fulfill their own musical needs. On March 1, 2019, they released their fourth album The Majestic Garden. The album, along with other works of theirs, falls into the genre of progressive rock: originally a movement in the 70's to bring new elements of sophistication to rock music. The genre gains inspiration from psychedelic music from the ’60s, often containing uncommon song structures, interludes, and heightened dynamics. The Majestic Garden is a wonderful example of prog that portrays its unique characteristics while also contributing to the genre with the addition of a fantastical layer to their music. 

A key characteristic of The Majestic Garden that sets it apart from other prog music is the usage of musical elements to suggest a fantastical setting in each song. While other prog bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis sway their audience with compelling melodies and lyrics, The Inner Road sways theirs with the atmosphere they create. The Majestic Garden transports you to a magical forest populated with giants, trolls, and faeries, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a high fantasy story. This is likely due to the repetition of minor scales ascending to the fifth interval and then descending, mostly seen during “Call of the Spirit” and “Water Well.” Minor scales are infamous for providing a spooky and ominous atmosphere. When they’re used as the melody of multiple songs, it causes the album to feel nothing short of supernatural. The repetition of the scale going up and down also generates a mood of suspense; the listeners hear this melody and expect it to change like usual, but it remains constant for a long portion of the song. The anticipation of a melody change sparks suspense into their listeners, a characteristic also extremely prominent in high fantasy. 
To add, a large contributing factor to the atmosphere of this album is the irregular rhythm in each song. For example, the rhythm section of the title track “The Majestic Garden” begins by playing four monotonous quarter notes, assisting in the creation of an upbeat melody and an inspirational ambiance. However, in the second track “Call of the Spirit,” the melody is much darker and ominous. This is reinforced by the rhythm section, whose dynamics are heightened at the beginning of the song when they play two strong quarter notes at the end of each measure. The rhythm of each song differs, either becoming more complex like in “Lost Land” or becoming more simplistic such as in “Mother Earth.” The continuous transformation from the rhythm section assists in the feeling of multiple events with different levels of significance occurring one after the other as if the album were telling a story. 

If you want to be immersed in a world similar to that of Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons, The Majestic Garden by The Inner Road is the album for you. With the assistance of musical elements such as the use of minor scales and the irregularity of the rhythm in each song, The Majestic Garden contributes to prog by adding a layer of fantasy that had been rarely seen before in the genre. 

Key tracks Include: "Call of The Spirit" "The Majestic Garden" "Mother Earth" “Fire of Life”

Ana McLaughlin-Contributor
October 3, 2019

1. The Majestic Garden
2. Call of the Spirit
3. Wind from the Reeds
4. Fire of Life
5. Lost Land
6. Changing Sea
7. Water Well
8. Mother Earth
9. Circle of Shadows

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